Inspector general of police (EOU) Praveen Vasisth described the recovery and arrest of the smugglers involved in the racket as "a major breakthrough".
"Those arrested have confessed to the organised stealing of antique temple idols from Nawada and other parts of Bihar. The antiques were making their way to the markets in the US and Europe,".
Vasisth said the smugglers had valued the idol at a price of over R1 crore but its value in the international markets appeared to be much more.
Official sources said the EOU team, acting on a tip-off, had contacted two members of the gang and negotiated the purchase of the idol.